By BLESSINGS MASHAYA
PUBLIC sector workers who are digging in on their demands for better salaries have vowed to press on with their planned strike despite moves by the Zimbabwean government to further improve their pay.
They said the new salary increment of nearly 150 percent offered by their employer was not good enough and meant to divide them.
The civil servants plan to go on strike as from Monday next week unless they are both paid in hard currency and there is a marked improvement in their working conditions.
David Dzatsunga, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (ZCPSTU) — the umbrella body for all public sector unions — said the government’s new pay offer was meant to scupper their intended strike.
“Our suspicion is that they are trying to divide workers. It’s a ploy to try to diffuse the action that we have mooted.
“We hope that civil servants will not be swayed by that because as long as it’s RTGS increments, it’s just hot air.
“The RTGS figures don’t matter because with where the foreign currency exchange rate is going, the increment will also be eroded,” Dzatsunga told the Daily News.
“Our advice to civil servants is that this is just a ploy to placate you. We must remain resolute and continue with our plans to strike,” he added.
The major beneficiaries of the latest pay increase are health workers, with the least paid nurse now earning more than $150 000 a month, up from about $30 000.
But the rest of the civil service staff, including the police, only got a 100 percent increment.
The president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) Enock Dongo, confirmed that health workers had received an increment above 100 percent, but declined to give their way forward on the proposed strike.
“We got an increment above the 100 percent level that the government had announced. An increment in Zimbabwe dollars does not make sense because it will be eroded soon. We are still consulting our members on the strike,” he said.
In the workers’ updated pay position paper titled ‘half year collective bargaining session 2022’, civil servants said most of them were now living well below the poverty datum line.
“Taking note of the fore-going realities, ZCPSTU now demands, accordingly, that the employer revises the consumer price index for civil servants to reflect the appropriate basket for middle to upper middle-class workers and adjust salary entry levels bench-marked to that level.
“We also demand that the entry salary level of the lowest paid (B1) civil servant, using the recommended middle class basket, be US$840.
“And that the salary be blended at a ratio 4:6 — meaning four parts USD and six parts local currency,” ZCPSTU said.
The civil servants also demanded that “the local currency component be reviewed monthly for the next six months, starting at a rate above 12 percent — which has been the mean percentage rise in inflation in the last two quarters of the year. – Xinhua